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Aislinn of Bairbhe dreams of becoming a lady knight to honor the death of her fallen brother. To her mother’s horror, King Patrick grants Aislinn’s wish and she begins her long years of training.
Despite the mockery of the other pages, and the disdain of Prince Caelan who also trains to be a knight, Aislinn commits herself to her dreams and embarks on a journey of self-discovery and bravery. Through the years, Aislinn and Caelan grow from sparing classmates to good friends. They both know that someday Caelan will marry for the sake of the kingdom, but even that cannot keep them from falling in love.
The threat of war with the Speicans is a constant threat, and one that grows more frightening as she and Caelan train toward their eventual knighthood. Aislinn has committed herself to serving Arnhem, and has promised herself as King’s Champion when Caelan claims the throne. She is willing to give up everything… her childhood, her life, even her heart for Arnhem. No matter the pain it brings.
“Is there anyone else that you have feelings for, Aislinn? Is that why you don’t want to be with Geoffrey?”
Aislinn blinked, thinking about his question. “I haven’t thought about such things. I’m too focused on becoming a knight. That’s all I’m worried about.”
Caelan pushed back his chair and stood. With him on his feet, Aislinn had to tip back her chin to look him in the face, he had grown so much in the years since they’d first met. “There is no one else?”
She shook her head.
Caelan took a step closer to her, stepping so close he only had to whisper for her to hear him. “What if I told you that Geoffrey isn’t the only one who favors your company?”
His closeness overwhelmed Aislinn and she tried to take a step back. Her shoulders bumped the bookshelf behind her and several books shifted, but none made enough noise to draw the attention of anyone else in the library. Caelan lay a hand against her cheek, his thumb beneath her chin, and with a gentle touched, forced her to look at him.
Her heart pounded hard in her chest like a caged bird and Aislinn caught her breath.
“Caelan,” she whispered softly, but before she could say more, his lips covered hers.
Aislinn froze for a second as he held his mouth against hers, then heard herself sigh when he pressed closer and moved his lips. Aislinn’s eyes fluttered closed and she raised her hands to lay them on his chest, feeling his heart pound as hard as her own. Then reality snapped at her and she shoved him away.
She pushed past the prince and rushed from the library, with several squires and younger pages turning at her escape. Aislinn ran to her room and slammed the door shut. She leaned against it and slid to the floor, her head in her hands.
How dare he kiss me!
But the worst realization was that she’d kissed him back. Even the memory now made her insides tremble and her hands shake.
Aislinn stared into the empty space of her chamber for several minutes, trying to push aside the memory that refused to leave before she finally stood. Completing her work would occupy her mind. She collapsed onto her bed and promptly fell asleep instead.
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